5 Nutrients That Have Been Shown to Improve Brain Health, According to Doctors (and You Can Buy Them on Amazon)
Published on May 9, 2022
By Candace Nagy
The number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060 — and as our population ages, our collective interest in brain health ticks ever upwards. So what can we do to give ourselves the best shot at maintaining healthy brain function for as long as we possibly can?
“Research continues to show that lifestyle and nutrition play a major role in overall brain health,” says Sonja K. Billes, PhD, and member of the Solaray Science Advisory Team. “Regular exercise, adequate sleep, staying mentally active, and eating foods with nutrients that our brain needs can all help optimize brain health and function, especially as we age. Maintaining optimal nutrition throughout the lifespan can be challenging, and many Americans do not meet recommended dietary requirements for nutrients that are critical for brain health.” She notes that one way to bridge this gap is by adding dietary supplements containing key nutrients. Check out the following nutritional supplements, which have been scientifically proven to improve brain health.
Red and yellow fruits and vegetables, bell peppers, squash, sweet potato, and carrots are particularly good sources of carotenoids, aka vitamin A. Proven to enhance memory and overall cognitive performance, carotenoids contain antioxidant properties that reduce damage to our brain and bodies created by free radicals.
The supplement: Solgar Dry Vitamin A delivers 1500mcgs without the added gluten, sugars, and artificial colors found in many conventional supplements, and supports brain health, as well as the immune system, skin, and eyes.
“The nutrient spermidine, found in wheat germ, peas, mushrooms, and tofu, is believed to promote autophagy in senescent brain cells,” says Joel Kahn, MD. Let’s break that down: “senescent cells” are cells that no longer multiply, and are often the cause of deteriorating tissues that can lead to diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The process of autophagy helps clear out these non-functioning cells, making way for newer, healthier ones. So basically, spermidine is thought to slough off old, dying brain cells, and promote turnover to younger, healthier ones.
The supplement: spermidineLIFE Spermidine and Zinc promotes cell renewal and is made from non-GMO European wheat germ. However, because it is a wheat product, those with gluten sensitives should consult with their physicians before adding spermidine to their supplement regimen.
Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fats (aka “good fats”) that maintain and propagate healthy cells, reduce LDL cholesterol, and even prevent heart disease. “They’re well-documented to have anti-inflammatory properties that protect the brain and cardiovascular system against aging,” says Billes. “They’re also associated with improved memory and a lower risk of dementia.”
The supplement: High levels of omega-3s are found in seeds, nuts, grains, and fish oils, but sometimes, your diet doesn’t align with these sources. When that happens, supplements like Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega, made with fresh, wild-caught anchovies and sardines provide concentrated amounts of omega-3 for better brain, heart, eye, and immune health.
4. B Vitamins
“B vitamins are essential for normal brain function,” says Billes. “They’re found in a variety of foods and are involved in the maintenance of brain structure and function as well as neurotransmitter synthesis. Insufficient intake of B vitamins produces clear deficits in brain function including dementia and mood disorders.”
Kahn notes that he tests all of his patients concerned about memory for B vitamin concentrations. “In those with low levels, B-complex vitamins are prescribed and have been beneficial for my patients, often lowering homocysteine levels to normal,” he says.
The supplement: Pure Synergy Super B-Complex contains all eight B vitamins from organic food sources in a slow-release tablet gentle enough to be consumed on an empty stomach and intended to balance energy levels, metabolism, mood, and improve nervous system functions.
5. Electrolytes (Magnesium & Potassium)
While electrolytes are often associated with popular sports drinks available in a rainbow of artificial colors, the best way to consume electrolytes, such as magnesium and potassium, is through foods like almonds and bananas, respectively.
“Many people don’t get enough electrolytes and minerals, especially if they drink filtered water; live in dry, cold climates; or exercise a lot,” says Billes. So supplementing these nutrients is vital for providing the body with the right amounts necessary for many bodily functions, including the brain’s ability to conduct nerve signals and regulate its own fluids.
The supplement: Both Solaray’s Magnesium and Potassium Asporotates w/Bromelain and Potassium 99 mg supplements provide these essential electrolytes in easy-to-digest vegetable capsules designed to support muscle, heart, and nerve health.